October 27, 2017

‘Old school’ coach earns respect as he teaches timeless lessons to players

By John Shaughnessy

Paul SergiPaul Sergi remembers all the names of all the CYO coaches he had in his youth.

Even more, he knows the impact they have had on his life through the years.

That’s why a recent compliment means so much to Sergi, who has been coaching football for 23 years at St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis.

The compliment came from Stephen Vannoy, the football coordinator at St. Jude. Vannoy noted, “You can watch him and tell how much he really enjoys the interaction with the players, and how much they respect him. I have seen countless former players over the years come up to him and talk about their lives and what they have been doing since leaving St. Jude.

“You can tell he cares deeply for the kids he has coached, and loves to see them become successful adults. I believe his influence as a coach contributes greatly to the success his former players are able to achieve as they go through high school and beyond.”

A retired firefighter, Sergi describes himself as “old school” in his approach to youth football, but the qualities he tries to instill in his players are timeless: camaraderie, work ethic and teamwork.

“It’s not so much coaching as it is teaching,” says Sergi, who started coaching with his two now-adult sons and kept going. “Everyone has an individual job to do, but you need everyone to work together. That’s the way it was with the fire department. When you went on a run, everyone had a job to do.”

Sergi doesn’t lack for jobs to do at St. Jude. Besides coaching, he’s “the main guy” for the outdoor sports, cutting the grass, planting seed and lining the field. Every year, he tells his wife Toni that he’s giving it all up. She has long reached the point where she doesn’t believe him anymore.

What keeps him going is the same goal that the coaches of his youth seemed to have.

“I want to think I can have an impact on some kid’s life.” †


Related story: Archbishop salutes CYO honorees and ‘teams’ that support them

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